As SI outlines in its upcoming white paper on the Top Ten Transitions To Tackle in 2014 to Tame the Tolls, hyper-inflation is just around the corner, logistics capacity is on the rise (just like the cost of transportation), and working capital management is still lagging. If you put it all together, costs could rise out of control while millions of dollars sit tied up unnecessarily. The only way to avert this impending disaster is to take proactive action and get your spend, and spend management, under control.
In order to do this, you need good spend visibility — and, if you are not an expert in spend visibility or spend analysis, you need visibility that you can use and that is graphical, categorized, and relevant to your spend management needs. Furthermore, if you do not have technical skills (in house), you need services that can help you normalize, integrate, categorize, and cleanse your data. And if you don’t know where to start once you have the data categorized, normalized, and cubed for analysis, you need category expertise and consulting services.
If you are in one of these groups, up until recently there were essentially no solution options for you to choose from and even now, there aren’t that many. Furthermore, most of the solutions on the market that are available to you today, with only a handful of notable exceptions that you can count on your fingers (without your thumbs), fall into either the category of solution or service, but not both. However, for those of you that need an option that provides a full-service solution that includes data integration and category expert consulting, an often overlooked solution (that has been under continuous development for almost a decade) is about to make a big splash in the Spend Analysis and Visibility space.
That solution is SpendHQ. What started out as an internally developed tool to help Insight Sourcing Group (ISG) achieve the visibility they needed to help them drive savings for their clients, was transformed into a basic commercial software solution in 2007 for a select group of marquis clients to help those clients track spend and associated savings. Since then, ISG has spun off the product into an independent business unit which recently added new team members with commercial product development expertise from leading sourcing and spend analysis solution companies. This new business unit has been dedicated to improving and extending the tool for the last three years in quarterly product releases.
The solution has grown from a simple spend reporting tool into a fully featured spend visibility tool that tracks all of your spend over time — by category, department, and user; a category management tool that lets you dive into category spend and filter down to the items of interest, see managed vs unmanaged spend, and track compliance; and, as of the next release later this quarter, track contract meta data and do basic contract lifecycle management. In addition, the services component has matured and the organization can quickly import, merge, classify, and cleanse all of the relevant data from whatever ERP, AP, or Procurement systems you happen to be using and refresh this data for you as often as every week, although SpendHQ recommends monthly refreshes (even though, for larger clients, quarterly refreshes often suffice). (Their largest client, with 50 Billion in revenue, chooses to only refresh their data quarterly as real-time isn’t all that relevant where spend analysis is concerned.) Plus, SpendHQ can also integrate supplier data feeds for verification and enrichment and currently integrates with a number of office supplies vendors out-of-the-box.
While not the most powerful (ad-hoc) spend analysis solution on the market, it’s a really great solution for a mid-market company without a (useable) spend analysis or visibility solution that needs to get one up and running quickly, accurately, and usefully (as the solution has more power and capabilities than the average company needs to get great results). Within 4-6 weeks, a company with no spend analysis capability can be up and running 100% and be making useful, informed decisions. In the next two parts, we will dive into the visibility and analysis capabilities of SpendHQ as well as the category management capabilities.